FOXBOROUGH – The Revolution ended their most successful home season on a winning note before a sizeable crowd on Sunday night. But the Revolution’s 2-1 victory over New York City FC before a crowd of 33,767 provided little consolation for a team that had been eliminated from playoff contention more than a week ago.
The Revolution (12-15-6, 42 points), who close the season at Montreal next Sunday, missed the playoffs for the second successive season, despite their Gillette Stadium dominance.
Diego Fagundez scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season and the Revolution capitalized on a first-half NYC FC red card to improve their unbeaten streak to eight games (7-0-1) and their record to 12-2-3 (39 points) at home.
NYC FC (16-9-8, 56 points), which qualified for the postseason last month and is in second place in the Eastern Conference, played at a disadvantage after Jack Harrison was ejected in the 26th minute.
“We were all excited, even though we don’t have playoff hopes, we knew we could be the buster for other teams,” said Fagundez, who improved his total to 40 career regular-season goals, fifth on the Revolution all-time list, one behind Joe-Max Moore. “We all played loose, hard, and we all worked for each other.”
Fagundez finished under the bar from the edge of the penalty arc on a 51st-minute shot off an Andrew Farrell feed, snapping a 16-game scoreless streak dating to June 3.
Harrison, a former Berkshire School star and England U-21 national team player, was red-carded for a foul on Teal Bunbury after attempting to recover a long touch near the halfway line.
“It’s nice to be on the other side of that,” said interim coach Tom Soehn, referring to recent defeats that included several red cards for Revolution players. “I wanted to make sure the work rate doesn’t drop off, it actually picks up, and we press even higher than we had planned. By the second half, I thought we wore them down pretty good.”
After that, NYC FC switched tactics, mostly renouncing its possession game in favor of playing long balls out of the back. The Revolution were nearly able to break through late in the half as a Lee Nguyen-Krisztian Nemeth combination led to a corner kick, a Chris Tierney cross bounced on the edge of the goal area, resulting in a corner; and Nemeth had an added time, close-range half volley saved by Sean Johnson off a Farrell cross.
New York City FC had been playing a patient build-up game, hoping to set up Spanish star David Villa (20 goals) and Harrison (MLS-leading six game-winners).
The Revolution dominated the match after the ejection, squandering several second half chances. Fagundez fired high on a two-on-one break, along with Nemeth (64th), then had a shot saved (66th), before substitute Kei Kamara, a 69th-minute replacement for Nemeth, failed to score with five chances (75th through 89th minutes.
Fagundez then finished a rebound of his own shot off a 3-on-1 break involving Nguyen and Kamara. Khiry Shelton cut the deficit with a 93rd-minute header off the kickoff.
“I’ve been on far, far worse teams, five-win season one year, where we managed to win on the road and we haven’t this year with a squad that’s significantly better,” said Tierney, who captained the Revolution. “It’s hard to put a finger on it.
“With the coaching situation, there’s obviously going to be a change. We’re not, obviously, satisfied with the way things went this year, so no one’s saying nothing needs to change. I think you’ll see a lot of changes. I don’t think anyone doubts the quality we have on our squad, it’s just getting 11 guys on the field to play as a unit. I don’t think we did that enough times this year. We had a lot of really good individual performances and they seemed to come at different times. In terms of talent, I think it’s hard to argue we don’t have enough.”